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The Secret of Roan Inish

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Secret of Roan Inish

Starring: Mick Lally, Eileen Colgan
Director: John Sayles
Rated: PG
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: February 1995
Genres: Drama, Family, Kids, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


*Also starring: John Lynch, Jeni Courtney, Richard Sheridan, Cillian Byrne, Susan Lynch, Haskell Wexler



Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH is a lovely fairy tale set in an isolated island off the Irish coast. The land is bleak and breathtaking and the cinematography (Haskell Wexler) shows it off without ever overpowering a simple story. Similarly the hunting Irish music (Mason Daring) sets the mood without ever dominating a scene.

A supposedly true fable is told to Fiona (Jeni Courtney), a ten-year-old girl, by her Grandfather (Mick Lally). Her grandmother (Eileen Colgan) does not approve of Fiona hearing any of the story.

Her grandfather tells her that they had to evacuate their long time home on the island of Roan Inish a few years back and move to the coast not far from the island. He points it out to her in the distance. The unusual occurrence of the move was that her baby brother Jamie (Cillian Byrne) was washed out to sea in his crib and has never been seen since.

Later her cousins Eamon (Richard Sheridan) and Tadhg (John Lynch) tell her even more bizarre tales of generations back. One has to do with a part seal and part human creature. Especially cute seals are prominently featured in a quarter of the scenes in the show. Much cuter than those in ANDRE for example.

The key to the success of THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH is John Sayles. He was the writer (based on a book by Rosalie Fry), director and editor. Sayles is extremely gifted. Of Sayles 9 movies, my favorites, in addition to this one, are: MATEWAN, THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, and BABY, IT'S YOU--they are all worth looking for.

The movie was very carefully crafted, cast, and acted. All performances were excellent and the movie had a relaxed, deliberate, and measured pace. My favorite acting was that by Jeni Courtney. Although most scenes had her just listening pensively, she was nevertheless moving at it.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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